Decades have passed and just right before the 2022 opening. The National Museum of Norway finally solved the mysterious case behind the inscribed statement “Can only have been painted by a madman.” on the left top corner of Edvard Munch’s 1893 painting “The Scream”. With the help of Infrared technology, they were able to identify and confirm the writings’ authenticity and when they were written. According to several speculations, the lines were written because of the community’s critical response when he first showed his work in Norway in 1895.
As mentioned by Britt Guleng: The handwriting itself, as well as events that happened in 1895, when Munch showed the painting in Norway for the first time, all point in the same direction,”
“The inscription can be read as an ironic comment, but at the same time as an expression of the artist’s vulnerability. Writing on the finished painting shows that creating for Munch was a continuous process. After “The Scream” debuted in 1895, Munch received sharp criticism, including from the art community, and a medical student, Johan Scharffenberg, who questioned his mental state during a debate at which Munch was present. For years, Munch referred to the comments in his notes, clearly deeply hurt by the judgements. The theory is that Munch wrote this after hearing Scharffenberg’s judgment on his mental health, sometime in or after 1895 . It is reasonable to assume that he did it quite soon after, either during or following the exhibition.” – Guleng
From a diary entry, it was mentioned that when he was working on the painting “The Scream“, He was watching a vibrant red sunset in Kristiana in the midst of his struggles, depression, and anxiety.